In January, Habitat NOVA held a Facebook contest when a generous donor sponsored a build day but then offered it to us to ‘give away.’ The winner of that Facebook contest, Francesca Laursen from McLean, traded in her computer for a hardhat on Saturday, Feb. 22 at the Douglass Avenue building site in Falls Church.
Laursen, a mother of three who spends her weekdays doing advocacy for migrant farm workers, grew up in Jamaica and has lived around the country and the world. She found Habitat NOVA when she moved back to the Washington, DC area two years ago.
“I wanted to build with my son,” she said. “I’m trying to get him to do different things. I wanted to help him get out of his box, along with experiencing the joy of giving.”
She “liked” Habitat NOVA on Facebook to hear about opportunities to volunteer on a build site. When the contest came up, she knew she wanted to enter and get a group together to build. “Our theme was house hoisters, because we would be building a house from the ground up,” Laursen said.
Although she likes to tackle her own home improvement projects, this was her first time building a new home. She enjoys changing paint colors and putting on new faucets. And, like any mother of three boys, she is very experienced at unclogging a toilet.
During the building experience, Laursen moved wood, lifted things, and did some caulking. “I thought we would do more hammering,” she said.
The crew included Laursen’s best friend Eilzabeth Ahn, her son, Kristian, and three of his friends, and her boss’s son.
Her son Kristian Laursen, a 17-year-old junior at Bishop O’Connell High School, became interested in Habitat NOVA when he reviewed opportunities to fulfill a community service requirement.
“It seemed interesting and fun,” he said. “It was something new. I’ve never used power tools before.” During his building experience, he carried a lot of wood, sawed wood, and hammered the wrap to the walls. “I thought I’d be painting,” he said.
When the group decided against working on the second story of the site, “I learned my friends were afraid of heights, ” he said.
His friends Carmen Pizzano, Carina Norregaard and Anja Soderstrom-Feyzioglu said they enjoyed the building experience. “It was a great experience to give back and work as a team,” they said.